Renowned New York Times columnist and bestselling author ("The Lexus and the Olive Tree," "The World is Flat") Thomas L. Friedman's latest book, "Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations," argues that the world today is moving faster than ever before and will only get faster.
All the more reason, he argues, to slow down, reflect, and maybe read a good book. I would urge you to start with this one!
Some random points that I found interesting (besides the incident that prompted the title that I won't spoil for you) include:
2007 was a watershed year when the pace of change began speeding up to disorienting levels. The biggest event was the launching of the iPhone but also the distributed-computing framework Hadoop, which created the possibility of big data for the masses, the technology that allowed the stringing together of literally millions of computers. That's why Facebook, Twitter, Android, Kindle, Airbnb and IBM's Watson could happen. 2007 brought together mobility, broadband, and "the cloud" in a powerful convergence.
Friedman maintains that to understand the 21st century you need to understand that the planet's three largest forces — Moore's law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss) — are accelerating, transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics and community.
Friedman's discussion of the "inequality of freedom" where these three accelerations are stressing frail states not only from outside but also from below is quite perceptive. That is, "both technology and globalization today are empowering 'political makers,' who want to remake autocratic societies into more consensual ones, and 'political breakers' who want to bring down governments in order to impose some religious or ideological tyranny, even though they may lack any ability to govern effectively."
But the internet has allowed as much "breaking" as "making" as evidenced by the concept of "positive" and "negative" liberty. Friedman argues that all over the world we now see people creating unprecedented levels of "freedom from" — freedom from "dictators but also micromanaging bosses, from networks forcing us to watch commercials, and freedom from the neighborhood stores, freedom from the local banker, freedom from hotel chains."
But when it comes to politics, the freedom people cherish most, he argues, is freedom to "live the way they want because their freedom is anchored in consensual elections, a constitution, the rule of law, and a parliament." Growing swaths of the world today have secured their "freedom from," but failed yet to build the "freedom to," explaining a lot of the spreading and stubborn disorder around the world.
Friedman quotes a TechCrunch piece in which he notes that "Uber, the world's largest taxi service, has no vehicles; Facebook, the world's most popular media company, owns no content; Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory; and Airbnb, the largest accommodations provider, owns no real estate" and offers this opinion on the book business:
"I personally think that there's going to be backlash against all this acceleration. And I still think curling up and reading a good book, whether it's on a Kindle or on paper, that there's something deeply human about that. Now, I don't know how these books will be delivered in the future, but being totally absorbed in reading a good book, I still am a big believer in that."
And the Crestview Public Library has 50,000 plus to choose from, so come check us out today!
Sandra Dreaden is the Crestview Public Library's reference librarian.